Sorghum is a genus of flowering plants in the grass family Poaceae. Seventeen of the twenty-five species are native to Australia,[2] with the range of some extending to Africa, Asia, Mesoamerica, and certain islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

One species is grown for grain, while many others are used as fodder plants, either cultivated in warm climates worldwide or naturalized, in pasture lands.[9] Sorghum is in the subfamily Panicoideae and the tribe Andropogoneae (the tribe of big bluestem and sugarcane).

Cultivation and uses

One species, Sorghum bicolor,[10] native to Africa with many cultivated forms now,[11] is an important crop worldwide, used for food (as grain and in sorghum syrup or "sorghum molasses"), animal fodder, the production of alcoholic beverages, and biofuels. Most varieties are drought- and heat-tolerant, and are especially important in arid regions, where the grain is one of the staples for poor and rural people. These varieties form important components of pastures in many tropical regions. S. bicolor is an important food crop in Africa, Central America, and South Asia, and is the fifth-most important cereal crop grown in the world.[12]

Some species of sorghum can contain levels of hydrogen cyanide, hordenine, and nitrates lethal to grazing animals in the early stages of the plants' growth. When stressed by drought or heat, plants can also contain toxic levels of cyanide and/or nitrates at later stages in growth.[13]

Another Sorghum species, Johnson grass (S. halapense), is classified as an invasive species in the US by the Department of Agriculture.[14]


Sorghum is efficient in converting solar energy to chemical energy, and also uses less water compared to other grain crops.[15][16] Biofuel, using sweet sorghum as a high sugar content from its stalk for ethanol production, is being developed with biomass which can be turned into charcoal, syngas, and bio-oil.[17][18]

In 2018 researchers identified a mutation that affects a sorghum gene which regulates hormone production. Plants with the mutation produced low levels of jasmonic acid, a development-regulating hormone, particularly during flower development. Sorghum seeds mature from clusters of flowers. These flowers develop from a branched structure at the top of the plant, the panicle. Each panicle can produce hundreds of flowers, which come in two types — sessile spikelets (SS), which are fertile, and pedicellate spikelets (PS), which produce no seeds. In the mutated sorghum, however, both sessile and pedicellate spikelets produced seeds. Lab tests showed that jasmonic acid prevents PSs from producing seeds — the lower hormone levels allow them to become fertile. The mutation triples the plant's productivity.[19]


A 100-gram amount of raw sorghum provides 329 calories, 72% carbohydrates, 4% fat, and 11% protein (table). Sorghum supplies numerous essential nutrients in rich content (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV), including protein; fiber; the B vitamins niacin, thiamin and vitamin B6; and several dietary minerals, including iron (26% DV) and manganese (76% DV) (table). Sorghum nutrient contents generally are similar to those of raw oats (see nutrition table). Among other similarities to oats, sorghum contains no gluten, making it useful for gluten-free diets.


Accepted species[20]
  1. Sorghum amplum – northwestern Australia
  2. Sorghum angustum – Queensland
  3. Sorghum arundinaceum – Africa, Indian Subcontinent, Madagascar, islands of western Indian Ocean
  4. Sorghum bicolor – cultivated sorghum, often individually called sorghum, also known as durra, jowari, or milo. - native to Sahel region of Africa; naturalized in many places
  5. Sorghum brachypodum – Northern Territory of Australia
  6. Sorghum bulbosum – Northern Territory, Western Australia
  7. Sorghum burmahicum – Thailand, Myanmar
  8. Sorghum controversum – India
  9. Sorghum × drummondii – Sahel and West Africa
  10. Sorghum ecarinatum – Northern Territory, Western Australia
  11. Sorghum exstans – Northern Territory of Australia
  12. Sorghum grande – Northern Territory, Queensland
  13. Sorghum halepense – Johnson grass – North Africa, islands of eastern Atlantic, southern Asia from Lebanon to Vietnam; naturalized in East Asia, Australia, the Americas
  14. Sorghum interjectum – Northern Territory, Western Australia
  15. Sorghum intrans – Northern Territory, Western Australia
  16. Sorghum laxiflorum – Philippines, Lesser Sunda Islands, Sulawesi, New Guinea, northern Australia
  17. Sorghum leiocladum – Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria
  18. Sorghum macrospermum – Northern Territory of Australia
  19. Sorghum matarankense – Northern Territory, Western Australia
  20. Sorghum nitidum – East Asia, Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Micronesia
  21. Sorghum plumosum – Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia
  22. Sorghum propinquum – China , Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Christmas Island, Micronesia, Cook Islands
  23. Sorghum purpureosericeum – Sahel from Mali to Tanzania; Yemen, Oman, India
  24. Sorghum stipoideum – Northern Territory, Western Australia
  25. Sorghum timorense – Lesser Sunda Islands, Maluku, New Guinea, northern Australia
  26. Sorghum trichocladum – Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras
  27. Sorghum versicolor – eastern + southern Africa from Ethiopia to Namibia; Oman
  28. Sorghum virgatum – dry regions from Senegal to Israel
Sorghum, grain
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,377 kJ (329 kcal)
72.1 g
Dietary fiber 6.7 g
3.5 g
10.6 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.33 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.1 mg
Niacin (B3)
3.7 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.4 mg
Vitamin B6
0.44 mg
Folate (B9)
20 μg
13 mg
3.4 mg
165 mg
1.6 mg
289 mg
363 mg
2 mg
1.7 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Formerly included[citation needed]

Many species once considered part of Sorghum, but now considered better suited to other genera include: Andropogon, Arthraxon, Bothriochloa, Chrysopogon, Cymbopogon, Danthoniopsis, Dichanthium, Diectomis, Diheteropogon, Exotheca, Hyparrhenia, Hyperthelia, Monocymbium, Parahyparrhenia, Pentameris, Pseudosorghum, Schizachyrium, and Sorghastrum.

See also


  1. ^ "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew". Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  2. ^ Sally L. Dillon; Peter K. Lawrence; Robert J. Henry; et al. "Sorghum laxiflorum and S. macrospermum, the Australian native species most closely related to the cultivated S. bicolor based on ITS1 and ndhF sequence analysis of 25 Sorghum species". SOUTHERN CROSS PLANT SCIENCE. Southern Cross University. Retrieved 28 February 2016. 
  3. ^ Moench, Conrad. 1794. Methodus Plantas Horti Botanici et Agri Marburgensis : a staminum situ describendi page 207 in Latin
  4. ^ Tropicos, Sorghum Moench
  5. ^ Flora of China Vol. 22 Page 600 高粱属 gao liang shu Sorghum Moench, Methodus. 207. 1794
  6. ^ "Sorghum in Flora of Pakistan @ efloras.org". Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  7. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana, genere Sorghum
  8. ^ Australia, Atlas of Living. "Sorghum - Atlas of Living Australia". Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  9. ^ "Sorghum". County-level distribution maps from the North American Plant Atlas (NAPA). Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  10. ^ Mutegi, Evans; Sagnard, Fabrice; Muraya, Moses; et al. (2010-02-01). "Ecogeographical distribution of wild, weedy and cultivated Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench in Kenya: implications for conservation and crop-to-wild gene flow". Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. 57 (2): 243–253. doi:10.1007/s10722-009-9466-7. 
  11. ^ "Sorghum bicolor in Flora of China @ efloras.org". Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  12. ^ "Sorghum". New World Encyclopedia. 12 October 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2016. 
  13. ^ Cyanide (prussic acid) and nitrate in sorghum crops - managing the risks. Primary industries and fisheries. Queensland Government. http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/4790_20318.htm. 21 April 2011.
  14. ^ Johnson Grass, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Accessed 2257 UDT, 12 March 2009.
  15. ^ "HudsonAlpha and collaborators expand sorghum research program - HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology". HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. 2017-01-25. Retrieved 2017-03-02. 
  16. ^ Dweikat, Ismail (2017). "Sweet sorghum is a drought-tolerant feedstock with the potential to produce more ethanol/acre than corn". Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Retrieved 2017-03-02. 
  17. ^ "Purdue leading research using advanced technologies to better grow sorghum as biofuel". Purdue University, Agriculture News. June 2015. Retrieved 2017-03-02. 
  18. ^ "Sweet Sorghum for Biofuel Production". eXtension. 2017. Retrieved 2017-03-02. 
  19. ^ MICU, ALEXANDRU (2018-02-26). "One tiny mutation could triple the world's production of grain". ZME Science. Retrieved 2018-02-26. 
  20. ^ "The Plant List: Sorghum". Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Missouri Botanic Garden. Retrieved 28 February 2017. 

External links